Dear Ministers, Congressmen, and Generals,
We rarely sing the seventh stanza of our national anthem, known as the “children’s verse” although it is particularly significant. Here is what the verses teach us:
We too shall enlist
When our elders’ time has come
To add to the list of deeds
Inscribed upon their tombs
We are much less jealous of surviving them
Than of sharing their coffins
We shall have the sublime pride
Of avenging or joining them.
Our elders are combatants who have earned and deserve respect. Many of them are among the retired soldiers whose honor you trampled in the past few weeks. They are the thousands of men and women who served France, soldiers who gave up their best years to defend our liberty under your command, to carry out your wars and manage your defense budget restrictions. It’s these elders, who signed a common sense letter, whose dignity you have defiled even though the French people support them. You called the men and women who fought against our country’s enemies putschists when their only crime was to love France and to deplore its apparent decay.
Because of this, it is us, the newly enlisted and commissioned, who must join the call and have the simple honor of telling the truth.
We are part of what newspapers have called the “fire generation.” Men and women in active duty, from every branch and every rank, from different ideological backgrounds, who all love their country. They are our only honors. And while we must maintain our anonymity due to military rules, it is nonetheless impossible for us to remain silent.
Many of us have faced enemy fire in Afghanistan, Mali, Central Africa, or elsewhere. Some have lost their brothers in arms. They offered their blood to destroy the very Islamism you make concessions to on our soil.
Nearly each one of us has been a part of “operation Sentinelle.” We have seen with our own eyes our country’s abandoned where criminality has been accepted. We have seen some religious communities try to portray us as the enemy. France means nothing to them; at best an object of ridicule, at worst something to be despised and hated.
We marched as part of the military parades on Bastille Day and saw the crowds, welcoming and diverse, cheer us on because we emanate from the people. And yet, for months, we have been instructed to be wary of crowds in our country, forbidden to travel in uniform, turning us into potential victims, in a country and territory that we would, in fact, be able to defend.
Yes, our elders were entirely correct in their assessment and warning in their public letter. We see the violence in our towns and cities. We see the increasing balkanization of public spaces and political debates. We see the hatred of our country and its history becoming the norm.
You might say that it is not the role service members to state these issues. On the contrary: Because we are apolitical in our evaluation of the situation, we are delivering a professional assessment. We have seen this situation in countries in crisis. It precedes a country’s collapse. It announces chaos and violence. And while you have been affirming there is a danger of a “military coup,” the truth is that violence and chaos will come as a civil insurrection.
To quibble as to the form of our elders’ letter rather than to recognize the truth of their assessment denotes a particularly acute cowardice. To invoke a poorly interpreted duty of political restraint in order to silence French citizens is disingenuous. To encourage military officers to take a stand in the public forum but ruthlessly sanction them the moment they write something other than a war story shows your perversion.
Cowardice, deceit, and perversion: This is not our vision of military hierarchy. The armed forces are the stellar opposite: we speak the truth because our life is on the line. Our hope is that trust in the military institution can prevail.
Yes, if a civil war breaks out, the military will maintain law and order on our soil because we will be asked to carry out that task. It is the very definition of a civil war. No one wants this terrible outcome, neither our elders nor us. But the truth is that civil war is brewing in France and you know it perfectly well.
Our elder’s warning also echoes older struggles. Our forefathers are the resistants of 1940, accused of sedition by people like you, who continued to fight while legalists, overwhelmed by fear, made concessions with the devil. They are the soldiers in the trenches in 1914 who died for a few yards of land while you passively abandon whole neighborhoods of our country to the laws of the jungle. They are the dead, celebrated and anonymous, fallen at the frontlines or after years of service.
Did all of our elders, those who forged our country, shaped its territory, defended its culture, received and gave orders in its language, fight so that you would let France become a failed state? A country that is replacing its increasingly impotent institutions of government by a brutal tyranny that oppresses its servants who want to fight for its future?
Leaders, you must act. The time is over for virtue signaling and mediatized hysteria. Forget about your electoral considerations. The survival of our country, your country, is at stake.